UN investigator finds Myanmar post-coup abuses a “major focus”
The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar claims that the scope and scale of military abuses have increased.
The UN’s head of an investigation team into human rights abuses in Myanmar stated that the magnitude and extent of alleged international crimes in Myanmar have “broadened dramatically” over the past year as the military sought to assert control after the coup of February 2021.
The UN established the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar in 2018 to investigate the military crackdown that occurred in northwestern Rakhine State. This led to hundreds of thousands of Muslims Rohingya crossing the border into Bangladesh. Now, the International Court of Justice is investigating the genocide case.
The IIMM is a collection and compilation of evidence for case files in preparation for court proceedings at national, regional, or international levels.
Its chief Nicholas Koumjian stated to the UN Human Rights Council that the incident following the coup was now a “major focal point” for its investigations.
The coup in Myanmar plunged Myanmar into turmoil. This sparked a massive protest movement that turned into an armed rebellion. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners which has been monitoring the situation, around 2,273 people have been killed, and more than 15,000 have been arrested.
“These events were selected for investigation after a preliminary assessment regarding the gravity and nature of the crimes involved, as well as their impact on victims, the consequences, and the implications on them.
There is a possibility that a court of law or tribunal could have jurisdiction over the(s) in question,” Koumjian stated in the IIMM’s latest update (PDF), which covers the period from June 2022 to the present.
He referenced earlier IIMM annual report findings and said that there was plenty of evidence that crimes were committed after the military takeover. The “geographic scope” and “nature” of the crimes had increased.
In June, four anti-coup activists and politicians were executed by the generals. It was the first execution of the death penalty in more than 30 years.
The IIMM reported that none of the military court trials had been open to the public and that the judgments weren’t publicly available. The IIMM report stated that death penalty imposition could “could constitute the crime of murder, openly performed by an organ or government” in these circumstances.
The mechanism had seen an “exponential growth” in evidence submissions from individuals and organizations. Now, it holds almost three million items including interview statements.
Documentation, videos, and photographs as well as geospatial imagery are all available in the repository.
According to the report, “the number and, most importantly, the probative worth of information received over the last year, namely the extent that the information helps establish serious international crimes or helps identify those responsible for such crimes was significantly increased.”
Facebook, the social media platform, also transferred items from “accounts controlled” by the Myanmar military. These items were taken down as they misrepresented their identity.
Rohingya were subject to discrimination and abuse for years before the 2017 crackdown. Facebook is accused of allowing hate speeches to flourish on its platform.
Miranda Sissons, the director of human rights at Meta (Facebook’s parent company), said in an email, “(We) made voluntary, lawful disclosures [to the U.N.]’s an investigative mechanism, as well as disclosures of public information to which has filed the ICJ Genocide case.
Myanmar, which refuses the use of the term Rohingya has denied any genocide against it, saying that its “clearance actions” were necessary to respond to attacks on police posts by a Rohingya militia group.
The situation in Rakhine since the coup has worsened due to tensions between the Myanmar military & the Arakan Army. Another armed group fighting for autonomy for ethnic minorities within the State has led to the Rohingya being caught between the two.
In November last year, reports surfaced of mass arrests and incarceration of Rohingya who tried to leave Rakhine. More severe sentences were handed down by the military against those convicted.
Generals dismissed all allegations of abuse during the post-coup crackdown and claimed that it is fighting against terrorists. A label it has given to anyone who opposes the regime, even elected politicians who were expelled by the military, was also rejected by them.
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